Rising to the challenge

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Ambassador Simon Manley.

“KEEP calm and carry on.” That’s the message to the British residents in Spain from Ambassador Simon Manley following the referendum vote to leave the EU. 

With many worried about how the exit will affect their rights and life in Spain as a British citizen, the Ambassador urged people not to worry and explained that currently nothing has changed: “Obviously there has been an immediate impact and economic consequence but in terms of rights and regulations for people here and businesses, that hasn’t changed from one day to the other and I think that is important for people to understand.”

Speaking to The Euro Weekly News in Murcia City, he said: “We will rise to the challenge. We believe when the people speak we need to respect their voice and work with their democratic will. That presents challenges but opportunities too; global opportunities for potential new UK free trade deals in great emerging economies like China and India, and traditional allies like Australia and New Zealand. We will weather the current uncertainty I’m absolutely sure, we will come through this at the end of the day stronger, with relationships that are different from those which we have currently but we very much hope that in that process of negotiations we can create relationships with our European partners. We are not changing our geography; we remain a European nation, they remain our neighbours, friends, our allies, countries that share our values and with whom we want to work with closely, not just commercially, but at a level of European relations.”

The Ambassador was in Murcia attending the inauguration of the new research and development centre of AMC; a big international company that exports to the UK and is a big supplier to Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Morrisons. Ahead of that he was meeting with local business leaders to further promote that despite the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, it was still very much open for business: “The UK is a big export market for Murcian companies and is an important place for Murcia and other companies to invest in, and I think in these moments it is really important to offer the message of continuity and tranquillity. On June 23 the British people voted to leave the European Union. It is a very important decision which we are working to honour but that doesn’t change the fact in any shape or form that the UK is a great place to do business, a place where we have deliberately created a very pro-business environment not just to enable creation of new businesses, and there are businesses created every minute in the UK, but also to attract foreign investors, and we are proud of Britain’s record as the principal destination for foreign investment in Europe and we are determined to maintain that record. To be a place where business can invest, grow and succeed.” 

The Ambassador has already been speaking with regional presidents where there are a large number of British nationals residing in Spain, and he said whilst it was clear it was not the decision they wanted, “they recognise the strength of the British economy because it offers them opportunities to develop and succeed in business. They are also issuing messages of reassurance…not just to British nationals here but also to Spanish nationals in the UK and Spanish businesses.”

The Ambassador’s role will now be to feed in through preparatory process ahead of the UK’s departure from the UK in around two years’ time, where he will air the concerns and views of the British nationals living in Spain, and explain and promote the views through the negotiations. 

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